Saturday, October 27, 2007

KGB Spymaster Alexander Feklisov Dies

KGB officer Alexander Feklisov has died at 93. Feklisov worked in the Soviet Consulate in New York City from 1941-1946 and was the KGB Station Chief or Rezident at the Soviet Embassy in Washington from 1960-1964. His cover name during his assignment in Washington was Alexander Fomin.

Feklisov helped the Soviet Union get the atomic bomb and was involved in negotiations with the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Feklisov published an autobiography of his espionage on behalf of the Soviet regime called The Man Behind the Rosenbergs.

The Venona Project, "a long-running and highly secret collaboration between intelligence agencies of the United States and United Kingdom that involved the cryptanalysis of messages sent by several intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union" provided the US government with information about the Rosenbergs.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has posted documentation from the Venona Project here, and Congressional intelligence experts Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel have also posted the preface to their 2000 book The Venona Secrets.

Feklisov said that "he was denied the Order of the Hero of the Soviet Union because his work helping steal atomic secrets from the United States would reflect badly on the achievement of Soviet scientists."

Reuters 910-26-07) reports:

"A KGB master agent who ran some of Moscow's most damaging Cold War spies in the West -- Klaus Fuchs and the Rosenbergs -- died on Friday after a lifetime of espionage that helped the Soviet Union acquire the nuclear bomb...."

"[Alexander Feklisov] arrived in New York in 1941 and began running Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a married couple who supplied the Soviet Union with top secret information on the U.S. Manhattan project to develop the atomic bomb..."

"In his autobiography, The Man Behind the Rosenbergs, Feklisov recounted how he had played Le Carre-style espionage games to throw off U.S. minders in New York. He said he ran a total of 17 foreign agents in his lifetime.

After working the Rosenbergs, Feklisov returned as a silent hero to Moscow. But he was quickly dispatched to London in 1947 as deputy chief of intelligence operations for science and technology..."

"He soon made contact -- in a London pub -- with Fuchs, a German-born scientist who worked at the U.S. atom bomb project in Los Alamos and at Britain's Harwell nuclear research laboratory.

Fuchs passed on secrets that helped speed Moscow's race for the nuclear bomb by at least 18 months, intelligence officials said later when the extent of Fuchs' treachery was examined..."

"Feklisov returned to the United States to head Soviet intelligence operations in Washington from 1960 to 1964.

As the KGB resident, Feklisov played a key role as a behind-the-scenes intermediary between the Kremlin and Washington in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, widely seen as the closest the world ever came to nuclear war." [full text See also Washington Post obituary]

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